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She Made It: Diana Nyad Achieves Xtreme Dream

Diana Nyad “This hope is still alive. Let me walk onto that shore carrying the message we can’t be afraid of failure.” ~ Diana Nyad.

Diana. Rocks.  She. Is. Simply. Amazing.

Mother Nature, along with millions of online fans, was on endurance swimmer Diana Nyad’s side during her successful 103 mile swim from Cuba to Florida.  It was Nyad’s fifth attempt at the historic distance and as she approached the shore of Smathers Beach in Key West, Florida, shortly before 2 p.m. a mob of cheering supporters were on hand to bring her home.

The 64 year old Nyad made her first attempt to cross the treacherous Florida Straits 35 years ago. Her original attempt  failed. And after that she stopped swimming. But she’s been dreaming of Cuba since 1978. When she turned 60 she decided it was time to try again. And again. And again. Many viewed her 35 year quest as impossible, and her attempts a failure, but she used each attempt as a lesson learned and a stepping stone to move forward!

As a swimmer, I can relate to her quest. Stroke. Stroke. Breath. Stroke.  Glide. Stroke. Stroke. Stroke.  Being submersed in water;  gliding through water, swimming under the surface and feeling the water on all sides. Slicing through the surface. Stroke. Kick. Breath. Getting into the zone, like long-distance running, is what swimming is all about.

Proving this week that you’re never to old to follow your dreams, Nyad is nothing short of amazing. The fifty plus hour swim, relayed by her team on Twitter and Facebook, was surreal as the indefatigable swimmer inched closer and closer to the other shore. If the flood of online supporters rushing to share the news and congratulate the swimmer is any indication,  it’s easy to compare the triumph to such celebratory events as the moon landing.  Attempted by many others over the years, the crossing punishes swimmers with jellyfish stings, sharks, sunburns, malnutrition, blisters, storms and hallucinations. On each attempt, Nyad and her team, led by head trainer Bonnie Stoll, revised the plan to counter new obstacles and challenges.

Reaching the shore in Key West, Nyad was determined to emerge from the water under her own power, which she managed to do before collapsing into the waiting arms of her team.  Wearing her trademark blue swim cap and goggles, she appeared a bit dazed and sunburned with swollen lips and face but otherwise in good condition. Once she gathered herself, Nyad had three messages for supporters:

“One is, you should never, ever give up. Two is, you never are too old to chase your dreams. Three is, it looks like it’s a solitary sport but it takes a team.”

Nyad’s social media team posted the following message on her Facebook page upon her arrival in Key West: “Our #FearlessNyad has at long last achieved her #XtremeDream and reached #TheOtherShore . An historic moment that proves #DreamsDoComeTrue.”

The official swim was 110 miles total distance in 52 hours, 54 minutes, and 18.6 seconds, shattering every distance swimming record imaginable for swimming in open water without a shark cage.  In terms of sheer physical exertion. Nyad’s effort over such an extended amount of time is a remarkable testament to human endurance.

Across the world, people on social media congratulated Nyad. President Barack Obama and Florida Gov. Rick Scott took to Twitter to acknowledge her achievement.

“Never give up on your dreams,” Obama tweeted.

Hillary Clinton said that Nyad’s record-breaking swim puts her former job in perspective.

Tweeting her congratulations to the swimmer, the former secretary of state said the feat outshone her own brushes with “sharks.”

Nyad told CNN on Monday, her mantra kept her going: “You don’t like it. It’s not going well. Find a way.”

People around the globe connected to her mission.  We can all relate on some level. There are so many reasons why her triumph should be shared. Congrats Diana. Thank you for NEVER giving up on your dream. You are truly an inspiration.

As we start this week, a new school year for many,  think about what you really want.  What dream makes you so excited our heart starts to beat faster? Can you visualize it? Dreams only die if we let them.

So go forth and dream big.  Remember – if it is something you want, never, ever give up.

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